Book Node: Tactics for the Library in the Augmented City

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Abstract

How could we extend the library’s reach and make urban environments more playful and social in the process? In this project, the challenges facing public libraries and the emerging trend of involving users in library development have been combined with inspiration from the field of urban media design. The aim has been to explore what behaviors media surfaces designed for culture, exchange and dialogue could possess, and what kind of presence an institution such as the library could have in the mediated city.

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Inspiration and Method

The aim in this project has been to combine interaction design practices with perspectives and opinions from urban development to propose interventions within the library and city. This approach relates to the emergent field of urban interaction design which looks at how people interact in urban environments that are becoming increasingly augmented with data.

My intent has been to explore how the library could extend its reach and contribute to making urban life more playful and social. The hypothesis has been that deliberately working with social navigation in the library and the city could make the library more accessible and visible and, in extension, amplify urban sociability.

Result

The result is a set of tactics for how the library could consciously work with allowing patrons to leave and follow each other’s traces, manifested in a concept that creates a narrative around each library book and makes its journey tangible by visualizing its digital patina. The concept allows patrons to leave and pick up books around the city, thus influencing what books are made available where.

Library Hub
The hub builds on the idea of using the actual artifact, the book, as a key to exploring its history. It gives a sense of connection to former readers and a bit of story about the book’s past, and lets you leave something with the book for the next person to find.

Mobile Application
The app keeps a record of your own reading, lets you trace the books you have read and follow their journey onward. Most importantly though, the app is what lets you pick and drop books at the city nodes.

City Nodes
The nodes are physical points around the city where e-books can be dropped and picked up. When finishing reading an e-book in the app, the patron is prompted to return it to a node along with a note to the next reader.